Gambling Online: Are the Games Fair?
I keep meticulous records of my play tracking the total amount of bets that I make. It's a lot of work, but I continue to do it for several reasons. Most of the time, I'm playing where bonus money is involved, and the cash-out requirements for bonuses typically mandate a certain amount of play. I also want to be able to keep track of the percentage of bets lost overall.
With the large amount of play I've recorded, I feel pretty confident in stating that the games I've played are fair. That is, they accurately mimic the games you would find in a land-based casino. I've wagered over $300,000 online and I've lost a total of 0.6% of that amount. Most of that play has been at blackjack, with house edges up to about 0.5%. But, some of the play has been at online slots with an unknown but certainly higher house edge. Losing 0.6% is a little high, but it's within reason for a little bad luck.
Update: My play in early 2002 has been very profitable. My total wagers have now reached the half million dollar mark, and I'm actually ahead of the games without considering bonuses. Quite surprising to me, but true.
So, at the casinos that I have played, it seems that the games are legitimate. Of course, it would be quite easy for online gambling software to be programmed to cheat you. And, I'm certain there are some online casinos that do so. Its not a coincidence that I haven't played these sites. If you choose a reputable site I believe that you can trust the games and not worry. In particular, there are four major software providers that I think are rock-solid. For more information, keep reading. In short, I have no reason to believe that I have ever been cheated online.
The smarter operators of online casinos realize that they can make a lot more money offering a legitimate game for many years than they can make by cheating a few players in the short-term. For this reason, size and reputation matter.
Now, how is it that I've lost 0.6% of my bets, but I've still made money?
One word: Bonuses. Keep reading and I'll explain.
Update: Now that I'm ahead of the game instead of 0.6% in the hole, the bonuses are pure profit.
But, first, what about receiving your winnings? ...
Since passage of new legislation in late 2006, my current recommendation is that you do not gamble online if you are located in the United States. Eventually I hope that we will see legalization, regulation, and taxation of online casinos in the US.